Organizers and attendees all had stories to tell Sunday at “7.8 Rubbles: Nepal Earthquake Relief 2015,” a benefit held at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Bhaskar Tripathy, a board member of the Association of Nepalis in Minnesota (ANMN), said a friend lost his uncle, aunt and cousins in the April 25 earthquake that had killed 8,567 people as of Sunday.
The family of his father’s brother is living outside, fearful of another quake or aftershock.
He fears what the coming monsoon season will mean for the people left homeless.
Bandana Garg, who came to the United States in 2007 and moved to the Twin Cities in 2009, said her parents are still in Nepal, sharing their relatively unscathed home with neighbors and relatives who lost everything.
“Whenever I call, I can hear the fear in their voices,” Garg said. “It’s a lot of mental trauma for them.”
Garg and her fiancé were supposed to return to Nepal in December to be married.
“Now we’ll see,” she said. “It’s kind of on hold right now.”
Although many hearts and minds were with loved ones in Nepal, the mood at the benefit was upbeat and joyous.
There was live music on the main stage, Himalayan food in the cafeteria, T-shirts for sale, a silent auction with art, batik fabrics and an art show and sale upstairs.
“Wanna buy a bracelet?” Bhaskar’s 12-year-old son, Shashwot, asked as people strolled into the benefit on a sunny, humid afternoon. He was selling red and blue rubber wristlets with “Nepal Strong” on one side, “We Will Rise” on the other. As the benefit wrapped up, he said he’d raised $180.
On a nearby table, T-shirts proclaimed, “7.8/Still Staying Strong/Nepal” and “Minnesota for Nepal.”
Apeckchya Karki, president of ANMN, said there are about 3,000 Nepalese in Minnesota, including students at universities in St. Cloud, Mankato and Moorhead. Most of the professionals have migrated to the Twin Cities, she said.
The organization’s mission is to build support for the Nepalese community and culture through workshops for children and adults and religious festivals. Now, she said, the focus has been on earthquake relief and support.
More than 220 people attended Sunday’s benefit; the goal was to raise $10,000. The group already has raised almost $180,000 from private donors, community groups and corporations. The Himalayan restaurant on E. Lake Street raised $33,000 by donating three days’ worth of proceeds. The Vietnamese community donated $19,000.
A man from Bell Bank & Trust in Golden Valley was at the benefit to deliver another $750 check; other employees already had donated $16,750.
Paruj Archarya, a committee member of ANMN, said Yelp Minnesota is teaming up with ANMN to organize a project where Nepalese restaurants will donate a percentage of proceeds from all sales from May 28 to 31.
The association so far has donated $25,000 to the Red Cross working in Nepal.
“Right now we’re working on the three R’s,” the elder Tripathy said. “Relief, recover, rebuild.”